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Watton church warmly welcomes Award commendation

The Diocese of Norwich has named its 'Most Welcoming Churches 2018' in an awards ceremony at Norwich Cathedral with St Mary’s Parish Church in Watton receiving a high commendation.

On Saturday, June 16 the entrants of the Welcoming Churches Awards 2018 from across the Diocese of Norwich gathered in Norwich Cathedral to hear who had won.

This is the second time that the Diocese has run the competition and over 30 churches entered. People were asked to nominate their church as ‘the most welcoming’ and then a panel of ‘mystery visitors’ visited unannounced and evaluated how welcoming they really were.

Representatives of St Mary’s Parish Church in Watton were delighted to be presented with a ‘Highly Commended’ certificate by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.

Rev Gerry Foster, Vicar of St Mary’s said: “The response has been tremendous, with messages of congratulations coming in thick and fast via St Mary’s Facebook page and in person. Everyone is really pleased and the constructive feedback from the visiting team has shown St Mary’s how they can continue to improve their welcome even further!

“If you live or work in Watton then you’ve probably visited the Parish Church of St Mary’s for a service, or been to one of the many community groups like Storybags mother and toddler group on a Monday; perhaps you’ve seen church members out and about in town at the Memory Café or visiting at one of the Aged Care facilities. Maybe you’ve heard the bells ringing on a Sunday or on the day of the Royal Wedding last month.

“Whatever connection you have with St Mary’s, you will most likely know that the church and community is warm and welcoming, dedicated to serving the people of Watton.”

St Peter and St Paul Church in Cromer and All Saints Church in Horsford were named the Most Welcoming Churches in the Diocese of Norwich for 2018.

Speaking about the awards Bishop Graham said: “A welcoming church is one which takes its mission seriously and realises that a place sanctified by prayer and worship speaks in itself of the presence of Christ. I’m delighted so many churches entered this year’s competition and that the standard was noticeably higher than two years ago. Congratulations to all who were commended or highly commended, and special congratulations to Cromer and Horsford, our urban and rural winners, for their achievement.”

The Archdeacon of Norwich, the Ven Karen Hutchinson said: "Our churches can be places of encounter with God seven days a week, if they are open and inviting. The Welcoming Church Awards celebrates the many ways that our church buildings can speak of God's love and generous welcome, even when we are not there to do so in person. It was heartening to hear what an improvement the judges had seen since the first Welcoming Church Awards in 2016, and we hope this good work will continue."

Below is the list of the winners and those who were highly commended by the judges:

The Most Welcoming Urban Church - St Peter and St Paul Church, Cromer
The Most Welcoming Rural Church - All Saints Church in Horsford

Highly Commended Urban Churches
St Nicholas, Dereham
Christ Church, Lowestoft
St Mary, Reepham
St Mary's, Watton
St Nicholas, Wells-next-the-Sea

Highly Commended Rural Churches
St Nicholas, Blakeney
St Michael and All Angels, Barton Turf
All Saints, Freethorpe
All Saints, Hempstead
St Michael, Irstead
St Peter, Rockland St Peter
St Andrew's, South Lopham

Photo (L-R): Charlie Houlder-Moat, Rt Rev Graham James Bishop of Norwich, Rev Gerry Foster, Elaine Rodgers

More about the Most Welcoming Churches awards can be found on the Diocese of Norwich website.

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